By EDWARD HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
LaGRANGE, Mo. -- The Missouri Gaming Commission has renewed the gaming license of Mark Twain Casino for another two years.
At a meeting Wednesday in Jefferson City, the commission voted unanimously to renew the license of the LaGrange gambling facility, which has operated for 10 1/2 years.
LeAnn McCarthy, public information officer for the MGC, said no major concerns were voiced during the deliberations.
"Everyone was on board with the relicensing," she said.
Testifying in support of Mark Twain Casino was LaGrange City Administrator Mark Campbell. He said the gaming facility has had a positive financial impact on the community, which receives a share of the casino's admission fees and gaming taxes.
During the first 10 fiscal years of the casino's operation, LaGrange received a total of $17.8 million in revenue, according to figures provided by the commission. That translates into an average of more than $1.7 million a year, which represents a significant portion of the city's annual operating budget of around $2.1 million.
Campbell said much of the city's casino revenue has been spent on various infrastructure projects. Chief among these was the construction of a $4 million wastewater treatment facility financed with $2.5 million in casino revenue and $1.5 million in grants.
The city also has invested significant amounts of casino revenue into water plant improvements, new water and sewer lines, sidewalk and street repairs, emergency warning sirens, decorative street lighting and various park improvements. The city also has expanded the Police Department and bought new squad cars, firetrucks and heavy equipment for the Public Works Department.
"We've been spending the money pretty much on our infrastructure projects," Campbell said in an interview. If not for the revenue coming from Mark Twain Casino, he said, "it would be pretty much impossible" for LaGrange to carry out the various improvements.
"It's a wonderful advantage for us," he said.
Grace Entertainment opened Mark Twain Casino on July 25, 2001. Following the death of owner William Grace, the casino was sold on Feb. 1, 2005, to Nevada-based Herbst Gaming Inc., an offshoot of the Terrible Herbst Oil Co. After Herbst took over, it changed the facility's name to Terrible's Mark Twain Casino. Herbst Gaming also acquired St. Jo Frontier Casino in St. Joseph at the same time.
In March 2009, Herbst Gaming filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions. According to McCarthy, the company emerged from bankruptcy on Dec. 31, 2010, as Herbst Gaming LLC. The company subsequently changed its name to Affinity Gaming LLC in May 2011. As a result, Mark Twain Casino no longer has "Terrible's" as part of its name.
Affinity's St. Joseph facility was also relicensed Wednesday.
Under Missouri law, casino licenses must be renewed after the first and second years of operation and every other year after that. Consequently, the gaming licenses approved Wednesday will be good until 2014.
This story is from Chris Blank of the Associated Press. Carried by papers statewide, this story was taken from the Joplin Globe.
From The Associated Press
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Gov. Jay Nixon has embraced a plan to raise casino fees to generate more money for nursing homes for military veterans.
Nixon’s budget director, Linda Luebbering (LOO’-ber-ing), said Wednesday that a $1 increase in the per-patron fee charged to casinos could generate about $50 million annually.
The money would provide a dedicated funding stream to operate Missouri’s state-run veterans’ homes. Luebbering says the governor also proposes using part of the money to build a new veterans’ home.
The fee increase is one of several proposals put forth by lawmakers this year to dedicate more money to veterans’ homes.
St. Joseph News-Press
Terrible’s St. Jo Frontier Casino is hopeful that a recent resurgence of revenue will continue in 2012, but guardedly views a new challenge on the horizon.The Missouri Gaming Commission reported earlier this week that the casino’s revenues increased a modest 2 percent in December — to slightly more than $3.5 million — compared to the same period in 2010. Admissions, meanwhile, grew 1 percent for the month — to 110,069, from 108,617 a year ago.General Manager Craig Travers welcomed the news, especially in the aftermath of interrupted business forced by last summer’s floodwaters. He said the report could foreshadow a strong revenue performance ahead.“We’re starting to see our business volume coming back to what we normally expect,” Mr. Travers said. Flooding closed the casino for three months last year, from June 28 through Sept. 28, effectively gutting revenues. For the first six months of the fiscal year, admissions are down 49 percent and revenue is down 46 percent, compared to the previous fiscal year period.December’s numbers joined 7 percent increases in revenue for both October and November. Admissions increased 1 and 2 percent for October and November, respectively.“I believe we’re on a trend of about 2 percent or 3 percent,” Mr. Travers said. “The fourth quarter was pretty strong. It’s a positive end to the year.”Patrons eager to see what had transpired during the casino’s post-flood renovations likely accounted for the increased admissions, he said, adding, “I think it was so good because we opened so quickly.”He admitted there will be no chance for the casino to make up all of 2011’s lost earnings.“I don’t think there’s really a way you can do that,” he said. “The type of business we operate, people have other places to go if you’re not open.”January has already started strong at the casino, bolstering officials’ hopes that the trend is spilling over into the new year. But one potential roadblock to a gaming revival in St. Joseph could come from the new Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway. That facility is set to open next month.“Our big concern, and the state’s concern, will be the opening of the Kansas City, Kan., boat,” Mr. Travers said.
Ray Scherer can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPScherer.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) - State regulators will meet later this week at Kansas Speedway to review the operations of a state-owned casino set to open there next month.
Hollywood Casino overlooks a turn of the NASCAR track in Kansas City, Kan. Its grand opening is scheduled for Feb. 3.
On Friday, members of the state Racing and Gaming Commission will review the casino's plans for security, surveillance and financial and audit controls. They'll also check its plans for preventing underage gambling.
The commission's agenda says members will also discuss allowing the casino to admit customers for a controlled test of gambling operations before the grand opening.
Hollywood Casino will have 2,000 slot machines and 52 table games, along with five restaurants.
JEREMIAH W. (JAY) NIXON, GOVERNORContact:
JERRY LEE, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC SAFETY
News Release ID: N01120001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 09, 2012
Kathy Sweeney of KFVS-12 TV reports on what type of person Isle of Capri intends on hiring at their new facility.
CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -
If you're hoping to land a job at Cape Girardeau's new casino, get in line.
"We'll get upwards of probably about five thousand applications I would assume," says Isle of Capri's Cape Casino General Manager Chet Koch.
That's five thousand applications for 500 jobs.
Koch says some people are even showing up at the construction site in suits, with resume in hand.
But, what will it take to be one of that ten percent?
"I'm just excited to be in the Cape. I'm setting up my apartment," Koch tells me with a smile.
It's clear Koch is a happy guy, and he says he's looking for others just like him to staff Cape's multi-million dollar riverfront casino.
"We are really looking for people who are happy, naturally great to get up in the morning. They want to take on life and that's the type of person we're looking for," he tells me.
Koch says in the next few months, Isle will begin conducting panel interviews, moving waves of people through the first step in what he calls a very unusual process.
"Every employee that works inside the casino actually also has to work under a privilege license. So, unlike any other job, you have to have the privilege to work in the casino, granted by the state of Missouri," he explains.
A new aerial shot of the project shows about 20 percent of the structure's steel beams in place. The man in charge of designing and building Cape's casino tells me he'll have the rest of this steel up by the end of February, and that's when this huge, floating structure will really take shape.
"That will be followed by the steel panels that are enclosing the building, and they'll be going up starting the end of this month. And then you'll see it very quickly close in and we'll be at the point at that time where the building will become water tight and we can start working on the interior finishes," Dick Meister tells me.
Back on the ground, Chet Koch says he isn't upset that eager job hunters are looking for a finished door to knock on.
"It's fantastic. The excitement here in the Cape, it's unbelievable how much support we've received already," Koch says.
Chet Koch says there will be plenty of warning before the interview process begins.
As for the building itself, it's still on track for completion by the end of this year